The mental experience of going from poor to rich

3 min readOct 21, 2022


“I don’t need to go there anymore”

Having struggled for most of my life. It was disorienting when you reach a point where you don’t need to struggle anymore.

All the momentum, defense mechanisms, fear just seems out of place.

Imagine hanging out in a clown convention for days, leaving it, not realizing how ridiculous you are until you look in the mirror.

The trouble is, what if you don’t chance upon a mirror?

Where should I go?

Imagine rushing at full speed down highway. In a flash, you receive two stunning realizations. The first wave is: ‘I don’t need to go there anymore’.

The crushing second wave: “Where should I go?”

For me, that launched a period of struggle for self-identity, purpose, life calling. It was a tumultuous period of my life. Easily seen as the ‘wasted years’.

A lot of philosophizing and thinking. But necessary. Looking at it through a positive lens, some people never get the opportunity to go through this. So I’m grateful.

With the subsiding of the mindset of ‘I need money’, I can truly flourish and be my authentic self, I can create, grow in directions I’ve never truly considered before.

Can I go there?

It came to a time where I had to challenges all the old beliefs kept in place to keep me safe. Many financially comfortable people from good families don’t understand that you set up a lot of limits in your mind so you don’t crash and burn catastrophically.

For example, doing something that you like but has no clear financial motive is crazy. I still have remnants of this thinking. Everything you do, you will judge yourself harshly for you’re dancing on the line between success and failure.

You somehow believe risky = impossible. At first the pile of things that are impossible are small, but they eventually grow to encapsulate most endeavors in life.

There becomes no room for error. When there’s no room for error you don’t and can’t take risks. You don’t play and experiment, everything needs to work the first time.

There’s no capital allocation, no burn rate.

Hopefully you made it pass this stage and become financially comfortable. Until today, I am still chipping away at fossilized corners of my brain.

How do I get there?

Once you set a life goal that is free from your current financial constraints, you realize you don’t have a vehicle to get there.

The habits and mindsets you develop in the struggle might not be applicable once you’re financially comfortable. I was used to working in short term bursts. Why? Because you need short term results. Waiting any longer might mean that you go broke.

With these short bursts of intensity comes burnout. Being so used to stomping on the pedal and going full speed resulted in heavy mental wear and tear. Pushing myself with caffeine and doing grinding, unsystemized, unorganized work that doesn’t scale resulted in months and years of wasted burnout recovery time.

Slowing Down

Eventually I learnt to slow down. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Being financially comfortable means that I can set goals that may not have immediate results. Furthermore, the goal I set may not give me the financial results I want, such as learning Chinese, but it’s okay.

Lastly, I can finally enjoy the process! I can love the journey, the ups and downs on the way to my goal, without worrying whether I get there or not. How liberating!

The Necessary Sprint

That being said. The sprint is still super necessary. If you are poor, you need to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of that hole. In grappling, we say that you’re in a bad position. Every second you hang in that position, the chances of a fatal move becomes stronger.

So whatever it takes, get out of the hole. Appreciate the ‘opportunity’ to have been in that hole. Keep that chip on your shoulder as it is a mental drive that not many people have.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash